A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Clutterers Anonymous: Stop Denying Your Clutter Problem Today

If your house is more cluttered than you like, you have more stuff than you need.

If you have a hard time finding an item you lost, then you have too much stuff.

If the thought of cleaning your house tires you out, perhaps you need less house with less stuff in it.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

Are there exceptions to the statements I made? Sure, absolutely. Not everyone’s situation is the same. But in most cases they’re pretty accurate. If you found yourself wanting to disagree with my statements, you may be in denial. Keep reading.

The Hidden Areas Hold the Secret

Having kids around the house all day long creates a pretty messy house. One thing I’ve picked up throughout the years as a mom is what I like to call “The Stash and Dash.” It’s my tried and true method of shoving toys and messes into hidden areas at a moments notice.

The “stash and dash” comes in handy when friends are coming, a prospective buyer is coming to see the house, or I’m simply trying to avoid my husband turning around and running away in fear after a long day at work.

The problem with the “stash and dash” is that it’s not a sustainable way to live. At some point having things look nice on the surface just isn’t enough.

A picked up living room is nice. An clean kitchen counter is impressive. But it’s those hidden areas in your house that tell the real story.

It’s the closets, the basement, the attic, and the garage that are the true test of your clutter situation. If those areas are a mess, then you’ve got too much stuff.

You can’t organize clutter. It just won’t work. I don’t care how many plastic bins, crates, or boxes you have neatly stacked in your basement. You’ve got a clutter problem.

Overcoming the denial is the first step. Like any 12 step program that leads to healing, admitting your problem is the first thing you need to do.

I’ll go first: Hi, my name is Faith and I have a clutter problem. As hard as I try, my kids toys and messy rooms are continually out of control. I’ve got to do something about it.

Now it’s your turn. You’re not alone. It’s friendly here at Clutterers Anonymous. What’s your clutter problem?

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Article originally published on 01/18/2012

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Comments

  1. Anette Eriksen says:

    Hi my name is Anette. I have a clutter problem. I have a basement full of stuff I might need some day when our house is done remodelling and toys my son might play with one day when he is old enough.
    Anette

    • Faith Janes says:

      Hi Anette! πŸ™‚ For years we had toys and other misc. stuff in storage that was put there when we moved houses. By the time we needed it, the kids had outgrown most of the toys or no longer cared about what was boxed up. There were a few things they got excited about like it was some kind of buried treasure, but for the most part we stored way more than we needed.

      A remodel is definitely a hassle but it’s a great chance to start fresh. You might want to read the post I wrote about “Going Hard Core with a Clean Slate Room Declutter.” Don’t rush to fill your rooms back up.

      http://www.minimalistathome.com/go-hard-core-with-a-clean-slate-room-declutter/

  2. Hi, I’m Melinda and I have a serious clutter problem. I’m also guilty of the “stash and dash” method. (Sorry, its not a method, its a problem!) I’ve got boxes, baskets and bins stashed to the gills with toys, books, paper, magazine and who knows what! Its contained, but not really…one of my goals this year is to get organized, but its so overwhelming.

    • Faith Janes says:

      Hi Melinda! πŸ™‚ Yes, stash and dash is a problem not a method. Thankfully since dejunking and downsizing it’s less of a problem. I’ve conquered my own clutter but the kid areas are a constant battle. Even though we did a major clean up right before Christmas it’s already time again.

      My favorite method is to focus on one room or one small area of a room without thinking about the rest of the messes still left to be done. If it’s a drawer, toy box or whatever I dump all the contents on the floor. Then I pick out what I know needs to be saved. After doing that it makes it so much more obvious what can be thrown away. “Prioritize, THEN organize.”

  3. Hi, my name is Marilyn, and I have a clutter problem. My kids toys spread all over our house and I have a hard time with paper. It creeps into my life at every turn and as much as I purge, it comes back full force! I am a visual person, so having things on paper is nice, but then I get overwhelmed and don’t know what to do with it all!

    • Faith Janes says:

      Hi Marilyn! πŸ™‚ I totally understand the paper problem. Personally, I LOVE to make lists so I end up with notepads everywhere. Some have menu plans, others have to do lists, and others have random ideas and thoughts for future writing projects. I have tried to go digital with my lists but there is just something about scribbling my thoughts out by hand that helps empty out my cluttered mind. I’m trying to just keep it to a central notepad and not go so crazy.

      Getting overwhelmed is a common problem. Just start with one piece at a time. It’s easy to evaluate things by themselves instead of focusing on the mountain in front of us.

  4. Hi my name is Jill and I have a clutter problem!

    Most of my clutter seems to come from my two girls. The fact that we homeschool seems to magnify the problem. The lines blur between school clutter and play clutter.

    As much as I like to blame my clutter problems on other people, I have plenty of clutter myself. I’ve come a long way in releasing it, but I still have a problem!

    • Faith Janes says:

      Hi Jill! πŸ™‚ Nice to see you. I agree that homeschooling can magnify the clutter problem around the house. Not only do our kids have constant access to their stuff which leads to the potential for mess all day long, but I very rarely feel a down time where things are picked up and quiet. I have remind myself that I wouldn’t have it any other way and move onto the problem solving phase of what to do about it.

      We don’t have a designated school area. In fact, the boys computers that they use for school are in their room. So it makes it even more important that they pick up their rooms. I also try to have pick up clutter times throughout the day instead of just at the end of the day so the piles aren’t quiet as overwhelming.

      I’m not sure the kid clutter problem is ever solved until the kids leave the house. But I’m trying to learn and teach them an awareness of what they are truly using and what they are just holding onto “just because.”

      • I’ve been very intentional about involving the kids in clutter control and have some great breakthroughs lately – it does pay off! Most recently we have established the PEEP Patrol which I just wrote about yesterday. I want our home to be a place to live – fully and comfortably, but there have to be boundaries so it is also a peaceful and calm place for all of us.

        • Faith Janes says:

          I was just reading your PEEP patrol post. LOVE the note and pep talk from your daughter! Too funny. πŸ™‚

  5. Hi my name is Jonathan and I have a problem with paper clutter. Looking around at my work desk, it’s not so much ‘stash and dash’ as ‘pile up and ignore’. I guess some filing is on the work list for today.

  6. I’m Megyn, and we have clothing clutter! Ok, I don’t have a lot of clothes, but all of my boys (The Hubs included) do! I just need to start getting better about putting things away. And our kitchen? Always a pile of dishes! Otherwise, we’ve pared down a TON of kid stuff. I adore having 95% of their toys in THEIR rooms. Rarely do toys come into the living area and stay there. It’s been a massive blessing!

    • Faith Janes says:

      Hi Megyn! πŸ™‚ That is awesome about getting control of your toy clutter. That is HUGE! I don’t have any control over my husband’s love of clothes but we’ve managed to cut down the kids clothes a lot this past year. It’s harder the older they get but I like to encourage the kids having favorite shirts and outfits. That means they want to wear them over and over again so there are fewer things to buy and keep put away. (Did I mention how horrible my boys are at keeping their clothes folded and put away?)

      Good luck on the dishes. I love cooking but hate dealing with dishes so I feel your pain.

    • Kara dolchan says:

      Yes this is us too. People wonder how ds keeps his toys in his room… I try to explain, without stepping on toes, maybe I’ll just send people here. That’s not to say a handful of figurines don’t make it out while buzz helps cook or flash wakes up daddy, but yes95 percent in his room AND not all over.

  7. My name is Paige, and I have a clutter problem!
    My clutter, my husband’s clutter, and my 2 kids’ clutter. I’m slowly working on mine and the kids’, but it feels like such a long road ahead! Sometimes I feel like I’ll never get that peaceful, “ahhhh” feeling in any of our rooms.
    I’ve been able to let go of most of my “just in case / hoarding” tendencies, but hubby holds onto them fast.

  8. Kara dolchan says:

    Hi! I’m Kara and I have a clutter problem. I hold onto gifts and empty storage bins. I have been reforming the last 5 years and it’s AMAZING how much we have le go and how we can embrace more fun for it. I have a bonus room and garage in our new house. We have been here three months. Those two rooms, and my bathroom cabinets are my focus this next month. I need to let more go for the sake of free movement, creative inspiration and general uplifting. Thank you for our blog. I have just come across it, I love it.

  9. Marianne says:

    ps. I’ve had a clutter problem all my life!! Is there a qay to lwarn a different way to do things? These are really ingrained habits.

  10. Gabriela Venegas says:

    Hi, my name is Gaby and I have an everything clutter problem!
    IΒ΄m a crafty person, and so all the different crafts I’ve learned have left me with tons of supplies from those endeavors…I read a lot, and its hard to part with my books. I have lots of clothes (that I will fit into again someday…sigh…denial). I have a lot of everything, I feel since I don’t live in a city or country where everything is at the nearest store that I have to hold on to everything…like my 500 pens, pencils, scissors, markers, notebooks, magazines, it goes on and on.
    My husband has tons of clothes and when I mention getting rid (giving away) his older clothes he sulks like a kid…we’ve no kids, so this clutter is all OURS! Its just SO hard!!! (slightly whiny voice)

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